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Recruiting Intelligence

Recruiting Intel Digest: The Most Useful Stuff from Q4 2021

Wrapping up 2021 was no easy feat. We’ve seen student enrollment numbers fall, rise, and flatten with the evolving worldwide pandemic that is COVID-19. More than a few in our field are burned out and trying hard to muster the energy to figure out how to bring their students the best experience possible.

We’re right there with you, wherever you are. Time to turn our focus to what we’ve learned from our recent experiences. Settle in for a Q4 wrap up of the info that can help you shape your 2022-23 plans. From strategy to tactics like chatbots and student recruitment platforms we know all of this will be up your ally.

Read on for our quarterly recap of Intead resources available to you — Q4, all in one place.
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Intead’s Top 10 Blog Posts of 2021

Enrollment professionals around the world tapped and clicked throughout 2021 looking for insight. They found it here on the Intead blog and now you can see what resonated most. Presenting, our Top 10 Blog Posts of 2021.

It was a tough year with far too much ambiguity. Intead’s global network kept readers abreast of what students and parents are thinking and how marketing messages can reach them.

Would you like a cup of coffee in New Orleans with us at AIEA? We’ll be there and look forward to a busy schedule. Be in touch if you’d like to connect. We have a few amazing restaurant recommendations we can share, assuming that kind of gathering is safe and comfortable by the time the event rolls around.

Read on for our Top Posts of 2021 (links included). Great for sharing with your team to help them think creatively about their respective roles and assignments.

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Getting Started With Chatbots

Over the past decade, chatbots have become more accessible and less expensive to universities. By incorporating an AI-powered chatbot into your website, applicants, students, and parents can find answers to their questions instantaneously. Institutions also demonstrate that they have the tech-savviness necessary to educate Gen Z and Millennial students.

The upcoming AIRC conference in Miami will have great learning opportunities on tech tools like chatbots as well as the usual range of international student recruitment insights from all corners of the globe. The Intead team is excited to present alongside our colleagues from Fordham University, Northeastern University, and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science. Please be in touch to schedule a meeting with us at the event. 

Our recent presentation at the CIEE Summit offered up perspective on global partnerships and how they support an institution’s larger internationalization effort. Find some of that perspective here: 10 Ways to Develop Strategic Advantage for Enrollment. We are working on providing access to the full recording and slide deck.

Back to the chatbot discussion: with today’s conversational chatbots, you are creating the user experience your important site visitors have come to expect as they traverse the internet every day. It is all about building the relationships that drive enrollment conversion.

Read on for a breakdown of what you’ll want to consider.

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10 Ways To Develop Strategic Advantage For Enrollment

The student recruitment landscape has been in a state of flux that was forced upon all of us. Institutions have adapted in obvious ways (ramping up online education) and subtler ways that vary by institution.

Looking a bit over the horizon, we recognize that there is always the potential for unanticipated disruptions in addition to the challenging factors we see very clearly. As we consider what is next, the lever that has the greatest value is flexibility. The ability to ramp up or down with relative ease. The avoidance of plans that lock us into something long-term constricting our ability to adapt as circumstances change.

Building Flexibility Into the System

With that in mind, we offer up a quick comparison of 10 ways to develop strategic advantage for enrollment and their relative flexibility. In this case, we measure flexibility by two factors:

  • Time: Investment of administrative/staff time into making it happen and sustaining it
  • Money: Investment of capital (cash out) to make it happen

When we consider time, we also think about commitment – alliances and partnerships come with contracts that may or may not be easy to modify or escape from as factors on the ground change.

All in all, we see the largest value in those options that offer the greatest flexibility – least amount of effort (time), least amount of financial investment (money), and ability to ramp up or down on short notice (flexible contracts).

This week, Brad Farnsworth, formerly at ACE and now running Fox Hollow Advisory, will be joining me to present at the CIEE Summit 2021. We will be discussing some of the options raised in this blog post and how they relate to institutional initiatives that deepen internationalization efforts.

Read on for more on those strategic advantages.

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2 Ways to Get Gen Z

It is wonderful to see a number of institutions touting strong, even incredible, increases in applications for their fall 2021 enrollment. And then the crowing over the record number of students actually enrolling. These successes are fabulous, for sure.

Yet, NCES data just released, with about 50% of all institutions reporting, shows the broader, less rosy picture. Most institutions saw average enrollment declines of around 3% (or worse) in various student segments.

Those few who are cheering, and the larger number of enrollment managers furrowing their brows, are evaluating all of this in the context of what happened in fall 2020 when so many institutions saw frightening and dramatic declines. Bigger than the enrollment blips that 2020 and 2021 represent is, of course, the enrollment cliff predicted for 2025/2026. How are institutions preparing for the challenges ahead?

We’ve seen an increasing number of institutions re-evaluating the game plan and getting very concerned about whether or not they appeal to Gen Z. It is a valid question. An important question. And here’s the thing: marketing agencies everywhere are making the most of that question in ways that can be highly misleading – the level of exaggeration coming from the marketing world prompts a bit of an eyeroll.

Sure, the decision-making process has differences today, but honestly, it is more the same than it is different. Not saying institutions seeking to attract and enroll students don’t need to adjust. They do.

Note: We recently presented an AIRC-hosted webinar alongside Technion Israel Institute of Technology talking about digital marketing and Gen Z that is now available to subscribers to our Intead Plus library.

Read on for insights on two important avenues for getting Gen Z to think more seriously about your institution. And join us at the AIRC conference in Miami in December where there will be plenty of talk on this topic.

A key idea: re-evaluate the hoops you make applicants jump through.

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Competitor Analysis: Quick Insights Available

Every enrollment VP is fighting for students who will add value to their institution. Domestic is heading for the 2025 cliff while international is beginning to rebound from the pandemic travel restrictions. 

What better way to win market share than to tell the story that differentiates your institution? This week, for those of you not already familiar, we introduce you to Jon Boeckenstedt and a tool he’s created that can help you see quickly how your institution stacks up to your competition. Jon’s work consistently brings data insights and knowledge of the field to help institutions make better enrollment management decisions.

On the international side of things, be sure to register for the AIRC conference coming up in December where we will be presenting two valuable learning opportunities alongside colleagues from Northeastern University, Fordham Law School, and San Diego State University. Early bird rates are still on the table! See link below. And see you in Miami!

Read on to dive into the amazingly fast competitor insights you can gather and how you might use them to put the best version of your institution’s story out there. 

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Student Recruitment Platforms Or…DIY

Online student recruiting platforms have become an industry staple and the proclamations of power and reach among them as they battle for market share is reaching a crescendo. They promise to find you leads and/or enrollments. They talk about customized approaches while their business model is all about rinse and repeat, cookie cutter marketing. 

Is their automated customization going to get you the results you want? Will they draw the valuable student click? You know, the one that is serious about pursuing your institution? Or simply the click that looks good on digital reach reports but never converts?

More importantly, are these platforms your only option for digital student recruiting? You actually have a DIY secret weapon that so many have lost sight of.

Read on to learn how your institution just may have all the tools it needs to be its own digital student recruiting platform (spoiler: it starts with your website).

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A View from My Seat: SIO Edition

Today, we start a new occasional series with our Recruiting Intelligence Blog calling on the expertise of our colleagues in the field and sharing their views with you. Many of you know our first “View from My Seat” writer and worked with him in his former role as Vice President for Global Engagement at the American Council on Education. Brad Farnsworth now runs Fox Hollow Advisory helping institutions develop and execute international strategy.

We are thrilled to share his counsel to SIOs as universities around the world continue to grapple with how the pandemic has changed their approach to global partnerships, student services, student enrollment, and overall academic business models.

Be sure to sign up for our AIRC-hosted webinar with Technion Israel Institute of Technology presenting “Shifting Student Perspectives: Digital Marketing Now” — Free to AIRC members and $45 for non-members. Register HERE. (If your institution is not an AIRC memberhit us up for a code and we'll see about getting you past the velvet ropes.)

Read on for Brad’s counterintuitive recommendations for all of our SIO colleagues.

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Recruiting Intel Digest: The Most Useful Stuff from Q3 2021

No quiet summer here--things have only sped up this quarter as institutions recalibrated their approaches to the ongoing hurdles and opportunities of the pandemic. With innovative thinking and disciplined strategy, your colleagues are tackling the big issues of the fall and considering how to adapt for spring and fall 2022. Today’s post points you to some of the high-performance best practices we’ve shared over the past 3 months to help during these times of uncertainty. 

So, grab a cup of coffee and before you finish it, we know you’ll be sharing links from this Q3 2021 wrap up with your enrollment team and colleagues with the power to make positive change for students around the world.

Read on for our quarterly recap of Intead resources available to you — all in one place. Plus, a preview of what’s coming next. But first:

PARTICIPATE AND LEARN: Opportunities up stay current and up your game:

  • October 5, NAFSA All-Region Summit Session: UMBC and Intead present “0-60 Internationalization” — Register HERE.
  • October 12, AIRC hosted Webinar: Technion Israel Institute of Technology and Intead present “Shifting Student Perspectives: Digital Marketing Now” — Free to AIRC members and $45 for non-members. Register HERE. (If your institution is not an AIRC member, hit us up for a code and we'll see about getting you past the velvet ropes.)
  • IIENetworker fall issue publishes Intead’s 2021 market research on Indian and Chinese student mobility. See below for a link to the magazine full of insights.
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What About the Numbers?

Astute readers of last week’s blog post about creating an international student recruitment strategic plan would have noticed the lack of results data. With this post, we take a look at the numbers for the three institutions discussed: SUNY, SNHU, and Full Sail University. To round out today’s analysis, we added to the mix: Green River College, Kent State University, and University of Cincinnati.

A results analysis cannot look at numbers alone. So many factors play a role in the success of any marketing effort over time. And when that marketing effort is global, well, being attentive and nimble is critical.

Having on the ground intel is so important. Having people to rely on who “get it” is so important. Having a sound marketing strategy is only as valuable as your ability to execute (see our recent post about Marketing Culture for valuable insights).


Upcoming opportunities to learn:

  • October 5, NAFSA All-Region Summit: UMBC and Intead present “0-60 Internationalization” NAFSA Registration Link
  • October 12, AIRC hosted Webinar: Technion Israel Institute of Technology and Intead present “Shifting Student Perspectives: Digital Marketing Now” AIRC Registration Link

Today, we will focus on some VERY interesting numbers – international student enrollment and the economic impact (thank you IIE and NAFSA). We will also consider:

  • The people: few teams stand the test of time (cue Carole King’s “So Far Away” #ShowingMyAge)
  • The environment: the pandemic wreaks havoc for everyone (well, almost everyone)

We really think you will want to read on.

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